I was on my way to see Wendell. Riding the elevator to the 7th floor, I wasn’t sure what to expect. His wife Bonnie, his son Kent, and other family members were there, too. Wendell was one of those great individuals who loved life, loved people, and everyone else loved—for over 92 years.
His battle with cancer intensified, and it was now apparent that he was living his last weeks at St. Francis Hospital. Every doctor and nurse loved Wendell. In March, he was going to be 93 years old. But he would not make it . . . he was “going Home.”
When I was leaving the hospital, a nurse entered the main entrance, with her patient’s mandatory wheelchair ride to the car completed. As I watched the young woman get into the back seat, I knew her life would be different. Her husband smiled and waved as he pulled away from the curb, a happy chauffeur to his wife and their newborn baby—they were “going Home.”
Life ends and begins
How to maximize these brief years of life takes me back to my conversation with Jim Stovall. His book, Ultimate Productivity: A Customized Guide to Discovering your Personal Path to Success, fuels my commitment to pursue and enjoy greater productivity; it stimulates my thinking and sense of responsibility.
With today’s information overload, technology-based connectivity, expectations to do more with less, and basic time poverty comes an environment of distractions.
To be productive, it is critical to distinguish the internal messages; each voice seeks to guide your decision making process regarding how you spend your life.
As we discussed, there are Three Voices that Affect Your Results.
- The Voice of Illusion says, “You’ll have time for that, later.”
- The Voice of Deception repeats, “You are very busy, good job!”
- The Voice of Reality clarifies truth: “You will succeed when you choose, right now, to engage in what will produce results.”
Focus on what matters most
1. Respect Life’s Fleeting Nature
The pace of life seeks to control your life; when successful, it accelerates the fleeting nature of time. When was the last time you considered your life’s story line—where you started, where you are, and where you want to be? Mid-course corrections are essential.
Being mindful of how limited time is can serve you well and lead to increased productivity. It is the classic “week before vacation” story. What drives high productivity in that week prior to an extended out-of-office time? The voice of truth pushes you to get the important stuff done now.
“Time is the quality of nature that keeps events from happening all at once. Lately it doesn’t seem to be working.” – Anonymous
2. Re-frame Work as Creative Opportunity
Productivity is about having the power to produce, delivering results, benefits, or profits; it is being effective in bringing something into existence. Your contribution adds value.
What happens when you view your work as creative activity? Being productive speaks to the artist in you. Your performance makes something that would not be otherwise.
“Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.” – Rita Mae Brown
3. Recognize the Power of Making Progress
What happens on a great workday? What makes you enthusiastic about your work? The list can include the common responses of recognition, incentives, purpose, passion, being valued, clear goals. How about progress?
Independent researchers, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, completed a multi-year study tracking the day-to-day activities, emotions, and motivational levels of workers. Their article, “What Really Motivates Workers,” from the Harvard Business Review, suggests the following answer (emphasis added):
“It’s progress. On days when workers have the sense they’re making headway in their jobs, or when they receive support that helps them overcome obstacles, their emotions are most positive and their drive to succeed is at its peak. On days when they feel they are spinning their wheels or encountering roadblocks to meaningful accomplishment, their moods and motivation are lowest.”
“…making progress in one’s work – even incremental progress – is more frequently associated with positive emotions and high motivation than any other workday event.”
When you remove barriers that hinder a sense of making progress, your reward is increased motivation and productivity.
4. Retaining Personal Responsibility for Results
When your “why” is big, the desired outcome fuels a sense of responsibility which supports your decision to do what matters most, right now. The narrow focus on results can lead to the “end justifies the means” mentality—get it done, no matter what.
Connecting a moment of decision to your future success supports this commitment to do what matters most. Accepting authority to make such decisions is critical to productivity. When you attach personal responsibility for results to your vision, mission, and purpose, your decisions will lead to personal success.
Your personal success increases when you decide to do what matters most, right now. You can make those decisions by:
- Respecting the fleeting nature of life
- Reframing your work as a creative opportunity
- Recognizing how motivation comes as you make progress
- Retaining personal accountability for results
Wendell’s journey ended just shy of 93 years on earth. At the same time, the path toward success began for a newborn person.
Your personal success and mission fulfillment are at stake; choose wisely.
Creating Space for Reflection
How do you rate yourself on the following four supports of productivity?
1 = “Huh?” 2 = “That makes sense” 3 = “I’m so there!”
_____ Respecting life’s fleeting nature
_____ Reframing work as creative opportunity
_____ Recognizing the power of making progress
_____ Retaining personal responsibility for results
What would you accomplish today if you were leaving for vacation tomorrow?
How can you associate that “procrastinated task” to your personal success? What is hindering your progress today?
Here’s to your next level,
Image Credit: Peter Thoeny via flickr
Note: Originally published as “The Fleeting Nature of Life” in my book, The People Project.